Did you know that the International Labour Organisation estimated that 30% of all work-related illness is due to stress? This accounts for $6.6 billion of losses in the U.S. alone. This is an alarming fact.
Hong Kong is one of the cities where employees work longest hours with employees suffering from mental illness such as depression and lack of sleep. It is no surprise that the market has reacted with insurance companies offering policies catering for mental health issues such as depression, acute anxiety, ADHD etc. Once when I attended a RME training, it was also brought to my attention that alcoholism is also becoming a health issue for lawyers. The issue of mental health requires our urgent attention.
Every morning, when we get up from bed, we brush our teeth – we take care of our basic physical hygiene. We have Green Mondays where we take care of what we eat, we are take our body. We go to the gym, spending time to strengthen our muscles and conditioning our cardiovascular system. There is no doubt that the above are important and I am a great fan of clean good and strong body.
My question is this: all the time and effort we take to take care of our physical health, why stop there, why not also extend the same level of time and commitment to nourishing our mental health and mental hygiene?
Our health and well-being are powered by four energy sources: physiological, mental, emotional and spiritual. Each level is interdependent of each other and affect each other. All are needed and none is sufficient on its own. A lot of effort and time is spent on the first physiological level and the other three levels are often overlooked.
We, human beings are not machines. We need to balance between spending and renewing our energy on all levels. Nature has its natural rhythm of four seasons: Spring is the new beginning, Summer is the peak leading to the Autumn harvest and Winter is rest and recoup.
In the same way, our body has its natural cycle to be honoured and respected : We start our day in the morning, reaching our peak in the afternoon, winding-down in the evening and resting in sleep at night. We are spending and recharging our energy in a constant flow and balance just like balancing the income and expenses, managing a healthy cashflow for a company.
It is of paramount importance that we adopt a lifestyle and attitude to balance our four energy sources so that we are able can live our lives with ease and joy and do our jobs in a more sustainable way. Otherwise, we will be in danger of burnt out, prematurely.
In addition to feeding our physiological source, it is just as important to nourish our mental and emotional energy sources – which is often neglected.
In our human body, our nervous system is highly affected by stress. Here, I am referring to our automatic or involuntary peripheral nervous system (PNS) as opposed to our central nervous system (CNS).
Constant stress and aggression over time causes imbalance in the parasympathetic part of our PNS, which is the part of our nervous system responsible for our “rest & digestion”. This is the reason why one of the “city-illnesses” is associated with digestion-related issues.
Below are some healing arts to help you cope with release stress and restore calm to your systems :
- Mindfulness practice (a type of concentration meditation)
- Loving Kindness/Gratitude practice ( a type of contemplation meditation)
- Breath Work (e.g long deep breaths, diaphragm/square breathing- particularly effective for anxiety/panic attack)
- Mindset reset
- Slow and Still practices e.g. Yin Yoga
- Mindful Movement e.g. Qi gong
The best prescription is rest and sleep!
,During current our global pandemic of COVID-1, the stress and anxiety stemming from navigating in these times of ‘uncharted’ water add further burden to our already over-stretched system. Overtime, it can take a toll on our mental and physical, even in the toughest amongst us, ,if we do not find ways to cope and release such accumulated negative tension. ,We really cannot afford to put our mental wellbeing on back burner now.
My daily mindfulness practice for the past 20 years have been the protector of my mental health. It also saved me during the difficult traumatic times in my life. I’ve had accumulated 5,800 lifetime practice hours of meditation, the bulk of which was done in solitary meditation retreats of 7 months in total.
It is this practice that kept me present in the moment during this global pandemic so I can stay calm, balanced and focused despite outer chaos.
Science have proven that mindfulness and other types of mind training practices can change our brain and transform our biology in ways unthinkable.
Hence the invitation is for us to take more responsibility in shaping our brain to support healthy habits of our mind through mind training. When we cultivate the habit of mindfulness, we are well-equipped to manage stress and intensity without being sucked in by the storm! Instead, we are much better staying centered, connected, and focused in the midst of the dramas and traumas so we not only survive but thrive.
,p.s. Need some calm and breather right now? I have a